A Tennessee mother was banned from her church after she showed support for her gay daughter and refused to apologize publicly when confronted by church elders.
Kat Cooper, a gay police detective, was instrumental in helping Collegedale, Tenn., become the first city in the state to offer health benefits to the same-sex spouses of government employees, the Times Free Press reports. Her mother, Linda, publicly showed her daughter support throughout the process by, for example, holding her hand at one meeting and hugging her after the board of commissioners passed the benefits resolution on Aug. 5.
But Linda Cooper's show of support ultimately resulted in her and some of her family members being ousted from Ridgedale Church of Christ, the congregation the family has been a part of for more than 60 years. Some of the church's elders reportedly pulled Kat Cooper's mother, aunt and uncle aside on Sunday after their regular service and gave them the option to either repent and ask for forgiveness in front of the congregation or leave the church. They left.
"Just as my parents have kicked me out of their lives and don't want anything to do with me. This is exactly what this church has done to Kat's mom, uncle and aunt," Krista Cooper, Kat's wife, told WTVC.
Ken Willis, a minister at Ridgedale, said Linda Cooper's support of her daughter was essentially an endorsement of homosexuality, according to the Times Free Press. He also said the church never expected Kat Cooper's family to disown her.
"But you certainly can't condone that lifestyle, whether it's any kind of sin – whether they're shacked up with someone or living in a state of fornication or they're guilty of crimes," he said, according to the publication. "You don't condone it. You still love them as a parent."
The single act of church discipline has been polarizing, and many people have taken to social media to express their opinions on the matter. Someone even created a fake, pro-homosexuality Facebook page under the Ridgedale Church of Christ name.
Neal Pollard, minister at Bear Valley Church of Christ in Denver, shared in a blog post several reasons why he believes Ridgedale "is getting slammed." He suggests a lack of biblical knowledge among the general population, people's subjective views of God and "society's warped view of tolerance" may all be contributing to the current backlash against the church.
"Please pray for Ridgedale," wrote Pollard. "Encourage them and show them love. The detractors are popular and validated by a world separated from God. Let us have the courage to stand by God's people who are willing to stand up for His will."
Churches of Christ are autonomous local congregations not governed by denominational leaders, which means different nuances of belief may be represented by different churches of Christ. According to 21st Century Christian's "Churches of Christ in the United States," there are 12,438 Church of Christ congregations and 1.5 million adherents in the U.S. and its territories.